The New Zealand Dead Look

New Zealand has a large number of shrubs with small tough leaves and wiry interlacing branches – divaricates. Some even have brown or grey new growth, giving a dead-like appearance. It is suggested that this may be a defensive mechanism to deter browsing moa (extinct flightless birds).

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, January 17 - 31, 2017
Kathleen De Maria
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum,
January 17 – 31, 2017

1)  Coprosma propinqua                (Mingimingi)

  • A visiting New Zealand scholar once described Coprosma as “a genus without morals that hybridizes incessantly” as she was politely telling us she didn’t think we were actually growing true Coprosma propinqua.
  • Due to the reddish stems on this plant, we may have a cross with Coprosma rugosa.

2)  Clematis afoliata                (Leafless Clematis)

  • Large leafless stems appear like tangled wires or string climbing up other plants.
  • Fragrant pale green flowers appear in spring, although ours have yet to be seen.
  • The leaves are severely reduced to petioles, thus the plant can photosynthesize through its stems.

3)  Coprosma aff. rhamnoides                (Twiggy Coprosma)

  • Another confusing Coprosma.  The aff. is short for the Latin word affinis translated as: closely related to, or akin to.
  • Evidence suggests that the proposed species has an affinity to, but is not identical to, the species with the binomial name that follows (e.g. Coprosma rhamnoides).

4)  Hoheria angustifolia                (Narrow-leaved Lacebark)

  • A slender tree with graceful, yet tangled, semi-weeping branches
  • Has a long shrub-like juvenile period with tiny leaves eventually maturing to a columnar tree with narrow elongated leaves with heavily serrated edges.

5)  Coprosma acerosa var. brunnea                (Sand Coprosma)

  • This low-growing, politely-spreading Coprosma is ideal for a rocky sunny spot.
  • Listed as at risk in large parts of its range due to competition from dune reclamation and in particular, marram grass (Ammophila arenaria).

Visit the New Zealand garden in the south end of the Washington Park Arboretum today, or find us on the map!